Firstly, I would like to make it clear that I am not a subscriber to the ‘Climate Change’ debate. Climate has always changed. It’s patterns never stay still and I honestly believe that man’s effect on the climate is miniscule.
Pollution, however, is another matter. Just ask the people that lived in London in the immediate post-war years and suffered the city’s smog, which had seriously adverse effects on their health. Los Angeles and other large cities have suffered the same.
So along comes the ‘Carbon War Room’. This non-profit organisation was founded by Richard Branson as an international non-governmental organization and think tank working on issues regarding market- based solutions to climate change. While its main offices are in London, New York City and Washington, D.C., Carbon War Room also has associates around the world. It merged with the Rocky Mountain Institute in December 2014.
The Carbon War Room has various initiatives in operation including Shipping Efficiency, Green Capital, Renewable Jet Fuels and Smart Island Economies. One of its main priorities is to reduce pollution caused by shipping. The Carbon War Room has been campaigning to get shipping to adopt fuel saving measures and thus reduce its carbon footprint, but was generally disliked from the outset with owners often telling me they thought it patronising. The most common comment was that Sir Richard should stick to what he knows best, aviation, and leave shipping to do what it does best.
Whether we approve of these ‘green’ initiatives or not, we have to admit that ships are major polluters. In the right atmospheric conditions I often witness an orange smog on the horizon where the shipping lanes in the English Channel are.
Now, the aforementioned Richard Branson is going into to the shipping business. He has formed Virgin Cruises in partnership with a private investment firm, Bain Capital, and signed a memorandum of understanding with Fincantieri to build three 110,000 gt cruise ships. The first of the vessels will be delivered in 2020 and be based in Miami. the other two vessels will follow soon afterwards.
As these ships will be based in the USA they will be subject to full emissions control. The US law states that there must be less than 0.1% sulphur content in the fuel, and there are stringent rules on NOx emissions as well. The are also reduction targets in CO2 emissions.
Mr Branson doesn’t appear to have done much to reduce the harmful emissions from his airline. It will be most interesting to see what steps he takes to design ships that are greener and more acceptable to his Carbon War Room. Failure to do so would surely be hypocrasy at its extreme.